The British invasion came in 2019 with The Who visiting Tampa on their latest tour, “Moving On”. Complete with a full 48-piece orchestra, they lived up to their reputation of being the band that created the “rock opera”. There was no spectacle of pyrotechnics or even big screen graphics.
There was a big screen on each side of the arena for viewing of the band playing and a great light show. The Who and the orchestra, opened with tracks from the 1969 “Tommy” concept album written by Pete Townshend. “Overture”, “1921” and “Amazing Journey”, were on the top of the setlist and next came “Pinball Wizard” which was a hit for both The Who in 1969 and Elton John who starred in the 1975 “Tommy” movie.
The audience were up and dancing to “Who Are You” and one of my personal favorites, 1982’s “Eminence Front” on which Pete sings lead vocals. He commented during the show that he wrote the song when he was in Florida. Townshend was in his usual dry-witted sense of humor that was peppered with his favorite curse words! Before giving the orchestra a reprieve to perform a set with the band, they did a new song from their new album, “The Who”, which is being released on November 22nd. The track is called “Hero Ground Zero”.
Moving on to the band, which are original Who members, Roger Daltrey, 75, and Pete Townshend, 74. Pete’s brother, Simon Townshend, on guitar and Zak Starkey on the drum kit, who follows in the famous footsteps of his dad, Ringo Starr, pounding the skins. Loren Gold is on keyboards and has worked with Don Felder and Roger Daltrey’s solo tours. Bassist Jon Button took over in 2016 and has worked with Sheryl Crow, among others. They have been part of The Who touring band in recent years on the road. Both Daltrey and Townshend look good and Daltrey’s voice is holding up well.
A real treat of hits in a row with the band is, “I Can See for Miles”, “You Better You Bet” and then Roger & Pete doing “Won’t Get Fooled Again” on acoustic guitars. It was stellar! The best of the night was the hauntingly beautiful “Behind Blue Eyes” with a violin and cello accompaniment. It was spectacular with its sound and emotional performance by Daltrey and Townshend’s guitar work. The orchestra returned for the second round of rock opera with songs from 1973’s “Quadrophenia” that included “The Rock”, “5:15”, and “Love, Reign o’er Me”. The orchestra added layers to these songs that made them even better for a live show! Keith Levenson, the orchestra’s conductor, has worked with Roger Daltrey for 25 years and Meat Loaf as well Broadway shows!
It all came to a rockin’ good time end with the classic Who tune “Baba O’ Reilly”! Everyone was on their feet singing about “Teenage Wasteland”. The song is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock & roll! The band rocked it out to the finish! One of the bands who played Woodstock 50 years ago and true rock royalty, The Who is one of the greatest rock bands of our time! Tour and album info is at thewho.com.
Opening for The Who, was Canadian indie rock band, Reignwolf. Their debut album “Hear Me Out” was released earlier this year. Check them out at reignwolf.com.
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / The Sarasota Post